Farmer Tractor Rally: Karnataka HC seeks detailed action taken against Organisers & participants, violating COVID-19 directives

Sushree Mohanty

The Karnataka High Court sought details of actions taken against organisers and participants of the Farmer Tractor Rally under The Disaster Management Act.

The Rally was held after the Republic Day parade in Bengaluru on January 26, 2021, and was attended by farmers from Karnataka to express their solidarity with the farmers protesting in the capital city of New Delhi against the three Farm Laws.

The High Court directed the State Government to submit details of action taken against participants and organisers for violating norms of social distancing and wearing face masks during the rally. 

The order was passed by a Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice SS Magadum which was hearing a plea alleging that the National Directives for COVID-19 Management, part of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines, were not being followed in Karnataka.

A division bench said: “The State government will file a memo giving details of all the action taken against organizers/participants of the rally/protest held on Jan 26.”

The Court has directed to submit all details on record by February 18, 2021, and the action for violation of the social distancing norms is to be tried under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020.

On January 25, while hearing a petition filed by LETZKIT FOUNDATION, seeking strict implementations of the COVID-19 protocols and social distancing norms, the court was informed about the protest rally arranged in the city on Republic day. 

The bench had then said “We direct the State Government to ensure that whenever such rallies/protests/gatherings are proposed, it is absolutely necessary that strict implementation of the said Act and the Regulations framed thereunder shall be made. The Commissioner of Police shall issue necessary directions on this behalf.”

Advocate GR Mohan told the Court that an estimated count of 25,000 people participated in the said rally, without observing the social distance and mask norms. The State government informed the Bench that action has been taken against 98 participants, who had failed to comply with the government directions pertaining to social distancing and wearing of masks.

The court has directed the Registrar Judicial to call upon respondent 5 (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Respondent 9 Janata Dal (S), to appear before the court on the next day of the hearing, failing which appropriate actions will be taken against them. 

Earlier the court had said they are strong of the view that it is the responsibility of all the political parties to join hands with the State machinery for strict implementation of the rules regarding wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing. They also said that it was high time that all the political parties take the responsibility to issue strict directions to their fellow party workers.

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